Tuesday 26 August 2014

Seven Books!

I have borrowed this idea from Rosemary at Reading and Writing. Rosemary received a blog award and instead of doing ‘interesting things about myself’, Rosemary decided to list seven of her most memorable reads which I thought was a great idea. You can read Rosemary's choices here.

It is more difficult than it might appear to choose just seven books, because once you start to think, more come to you and I’m sure as soon as I post this I’ll think of more. I’ve already deleted some and added different ones. There are just so many!

I saw this book on the second hand shelf outside our local bookshop. It was 50 pence and didn't look as if it had ever been opened. It was the best 50 pence I ever spent and now I have bought the book to read again (only £1.99 on Kindle at the moment and it is a very big book). It tells the story of three generations of women in China. Will Self said the book made him feel like a 5 year old and that is exactly how it made me feel.

My son bought this book for me for my birthday a few years ago after I read Ricky Tomlinson’s autobiography in which he said that reading The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists changed his life. My interest was piqued. I won’t say it changed my life, but it certainly widened my knowledge and is a very enlightening read. It gives a vivid account of life in the early 1900s. It’s another book I wanted to read again and although I’d kept the paperback, I found it on Kindle – free! Even the paperback version is now only £1.99

Several years ago my friend told me I should read this book. I wasn't interested in reading about explorers or ice, but she had never failed me in a book recommendation, so I bought it. I have since read it three times and will again. It is so well written although some parts are very hard to read (dogs, cat) – you will know what I mean if you have read it. Reading this book started a fascination with polar exploration that has had me reading countless books about it.

I read this at school and my goodness it came as a shock after I’d been reading books like, What Katy Did, Little Women, Dr Dolittle and such. It is so long since I read it, I would like to read it again, but I do remember it very well. I also remember my little socks being shocked right off the ends of my feet!

As a child I loved reading books about animals and how I cried when I read Black Beauty. It is free on Kindle and I am going to read it again. I’ll just have to make sure I have plenty of tissues on hand for the tears I know will come.

I fell into this book from the first line and loved the way it was written, spoken by Dolores as she recounts her story to the police when they question her about the death of her long term employer, Vera Donovan. And there are no chapters. I don’t think I’d ever read a book without chapters before. I’ve read just about everything Stephen King has written and a great deal of it is memorable, but for the purpose of this post I wanted to choose just one and Dolores won. Not a horror novel, but a powerful story with two strong, memorable women, Dolores and Vera at its heart.

This is the story of a couple who stay on in India after 1947. Moving and funny, another one I really must read again. And it reminds me that I also want to read the Raj Quartet.

Would anyone else like to follow Rosemary’s lead and tell us seven memorable books?

Will you look at that? I might have known he’d worm his way in somewhere. He loved having his two far away little people here to stay and there were so many tears when they had to say goodbye.

Sorry about the muddly fonts! Not quite sure how it happened, but I can't change it! Sigh. Never mind.

Wednesday 20 August 2014

Fossicking for Fossils - A Different Perspective

Every time I take Dusty out I look across the water to Walton-on-Naze. I used to cycle there when I was much younger, chain my bike up to the railings, then go and have fun all day on the pier! The pier is round the corner and out of sight.

Walton is next door to Frinton-on-Sea – There is a joke, “Harwich for the Continent, Frinton for the incontinent.” I love Frinton – it is old fashioned, but in a nice way!

We used to go over to Walton a lot before the kidlets started school. We’d have picnics and play on the parks and look up at the Naze Tower. That is something for another day I think – a climb to the top of the tower.

For some time I’ve wanted to go down the steps to the beach at the foot of the cliffs. It is a Site of Special Scientific Interest and is a treasure trove of fossils.

When I was a child, I often found shark teeth on Harwich beach. I had no idea they were fossils. I wish I’d kept the hundreds I must have found over the years. I still have a few that my mum collected for my kids when they were small.

Anyway, back to Walton. Fortunately the steps down to the beach are staggered, so it’s a pretty easy climb up and down. You can see people at the top of the steps and also where people have by-passed the steps and just gone straight up - or down and left a pathway.

At the bottom, there is the new Crag Walk which protects the cliff beneath the Naze Tower. Then there are wooden steps down to the beach further along the cliffs.

Digging into the cliffs is strictly forbidden. You can understand why. With them being eroded at a rate of 2 metres a year and with the ever present danger of cliff falls as well as the cliffs being an SSSI there has to be a strict rule.

Yet we saw three different groups of people – adults and children – hacking at the cliff. One girl was running at them with a lump of wood she was using as a battering ram.

Himself was all for telling them off, but I held him back. If they’re not going to respect something that’s been there for 55 million years, they’re certainly not going to respect a person – and they were all holding sharp implements. 

People should keep their picks and chisels at home in their tool sheds where they belong and not use them to destroy something so special and beautiful. They don't seem to realise how lucky they are to have access to the cliffs. 

Anyway, enough of my ranting. I shall put my soap box away now and show you some more photos instead.

While we were there, there was a light cliff fall. Just a few crumbs clattering down.

We learnt how to tell a fossilised shell from a normal shell and my oldest grandson found three shark teeth. We found lots of fossilised wood which is very heavy and a few odd shaped bits that might be bones, but could just as easily be more wood. These are just some of the smaller pieces my grandson found (not the glass topped table - we found that in Argos).

My oldest granddaughter concentrated on shells and her finds included these fossils! (not the plastic lid - we found that in the kitchen).

It was a fascinating way to spend an afternoon and it was pleasantly warm on the beach.

From here, we can only see Felixstowe docks. From Walton we could see the docks and the other side of Felixstowe – the “holiday” side.

I wanted to see what here looked like from there, but we didn’t go far enough round the cliffs to see where we live. In this photo you can see the War Department at Beacon Hill in Harwich poking out in front of the cranes. I zoomed in and could see the Navyard Wharf (where the bright white building is) and the Low Lighthouse at Harwich is the tiny dark smudge in front of it and we could also see beach huts along Dovercourt sea front and St Nicholas church.

It looks as if those cranes tower over Harwich doesn’t it, but they don’t! It was strange seeing familiar places from a different perspective.

I want to go back there now, climb the tower (the view from the top must be amazing) and walk further round the beach to see what I can see!

Less than two weeks left of the school summer holidays. Boo! 

Tomorrow we are going to pick up my far away granddaughters to bring back here for a short holiday. I can’t wait!

Oops, nearly forgot... Harley wanted to play, but Dusty had had a busy day!

**While I'm here, just want to point you towards a new blog, Jaunts Around Ireland where you'll find lovely photos and interesting facts!**

Friday 15 August 2014

Precious Moments

Never mind old Hurricane Bertha and her tail end bringing rain and wind, we had a fantastic start to the holidays.

I shall be very sad when they all go back to school.

I was quite pleased with the photos taken on my phone. It was so bright I couldn't see the screen, so had no idea how they would turn out.

Dusty seems to be having something of a growth spurt. He’s almost as tall as Poppy now. Knew he’d weasel his way onto this post!

I haven’t been writing much, but I’ve been doing a bit of Kindling.

This one was originally published as a pocket novel and is now available from Amazon UK and Amazon 

This one was a pocket novel too Amazon UK and Amazon.

And finally this one is a collection of twelve longer stories of the Fiction Feast variety which may appeal if you like a bit of murder and revenge. Available from Amazon UK and Amazon.

Harley says she’s far more photogenic than dogs that smell of the beach!

Happy Holidays xx

Monday 4 August 2014


You know those spiders you get on the ceiling, right up in the corners. The ones with little bodies and long legs?

Well I’m no lover of spiders, in fact I am terrified of them, but I don’t mind these - Pholcidae. 

Not that I’d want to touch one and I’d probably freak out if one touched me, but they do tend to mind their own business.

They are known as cellar spiders, daddy long legs spiders and carpenter spiders amongst other things.

I’ve learned something about these unassuming, rather delicate looking creatures and I think this deserves a drum roll….

They are natural predators of house spiders (Yay!). And they have been known to kill redback spiders and huntsman spiders, not with their venom, but with their speed.

This is another predator of spiders. I knew he’d get into this post somewhere! Credit to my eldest son Rob for taking the photo of Dusty the Spider Eater (he also tries to eat snails, worms and bees - well let's be honest, he's a springer spaniel, he'll eat anything) making himself comfortable on my pillow – and credit to him too for the photo in the last post of Sad Dusty with my trainer

Friday 1 August 2014

August Giggle Blog!

Nooo it can’t be August already! But if it’s a new month it’s time for a Giggle Blog and if it's August then it will soon be Harley's first birthday.

Well here goes and the first giggle is brought to you by my youngest grandson who is just three:

Grandad: “I love your socks. They’re pirate socks. Are you a pirate?”

Noah:  “No! (Lifts hands up and wiggles his fingers) Because I have got two hands, see?”

The children were discussing twins and triplets. I asked them if they knew what triplets were. They did. So I asked what a set of four would be called.

Forklets and Doublets were among the suggestions.

I have got a ball flinger for flinging tennis balls. It also acts as a picker-upper so I don’t have to get sandy/muddy fingers. It’s a great little gadget, but I am getting a sore thumb from using it. I call it Ball Flingers Thumb – now try saying that a few times!

Whenever I go out and leave Dusty behind he does exactly what Tilly and Indy used to do. He captures one of my dog-walking trainers and cuddles up with it. He has perfected his sad look don’t you think? 

Here's one of him looking a bit happier with his bestmatebuddypal Poppy and one of the little people who is wearing a tie-dye t-shirt she made herself.

Happy August!